Amos Winbush III started his company when he dropped his phone in 2008. In an instant Winbush--then a professional musician--lost all of his contacts, photos and documents.
Six years later, Winbush is still the founder and CEO of CyberSynchs, which automatically backs up and manages users' mobile content, and his company boasts $100 million in revenue and supports almost 300 million customers across three continents. During his talk on Wednesday at Inc.'s GrowCo event in Nashville,, Winbush spoke about how success depends on a company's ability to foster a healthy, productive, and responsive culture. Unless a company incentivizes employee ownership and consumer brand ambassadors, he said, you have nothing but bored employees and unenthusiastic customers--if you can get them.
"I see my business being held up by three strong pillars: personal"--meaning himself--"company, and consumers," he said. "They all work together to create your organizational fingerprint. Your company's culture is made up of these three things. And company culture begins with the entrepreneur at the point of conception."
Winbush, who was recognized as one of Inc.'s 30 Under 30 in 2010, stressed that there's "no secret" around the hard part of being a leader of a successful company. You "just have to do the hard work to get there." So he didn't give practical tips on how to find success. Instead he used the Socratic method, posing deep questions to the audience about their business cultures. By answering the following questions, Winbush says you'll be able to build the right culture for your business.
Can you give up some control?
When you launch a company, your vision is what guides the company forward. But great leaders don't hold onto that vision obsessively. You need to let it go, give it to others and let them riff off it. "Entrepreneurs work in a silo. We launch an idea and a vision and then tend to believe what we feel that vision is," he said. "You launched a business, implemented a vision, but are you allowing your employees to implement that vision the way that they should? Or are you holding them back to implement your vision based upon your fears?"
Can you empower your employees?
Your employees--another pillar--don't only need the freedom to come in and take ownership. They need to be empowered by you. If want to have a healthy and productive culture, hire the best individuals you can find and give them the resources, control, and power they need to build upon your vision. "Every single person in your organization has a hand in creating that company culture--a productive, a healthy, responsive company culture. By empowering them, lifting them up, challenging them, challenging yourself, you allow that organization to thrive," he said. "You allow different mindsets to connect."
Do your customers have a voice?
The final pillar, Winbush said, is the consumer. You didn't create a one-way street just to sell something to faceless blobs who will give you all their money. You created a platform, a community; something valuable. You need to listen to your customers and involve them in as much as you can. "Are we allowing our consumers the ability to have a voice?" Winbush said. "If the answer is no, how do we put processes in place where we empower our consumers to feel they have ownership over the success of our company and the success of our employees?"
Winbush concluded with a series of questions that any entrepreneur concerned about company culture should constantly ask themselves: "Are the things I am doing now conducive for the growth of my company? Is it conducive for ownership, is it conducive for empowerment, is it conducive for those people who love, digest and become ambassadors for my business? Is it conducive for them to stick around?"